[07/14/05 - 12:00 AM]
The Futon's First Look: "Modern Men" (The WB)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

With the official start of the 2005-06 season less than two months away, the drumbeats have begun by the networks to tout their new comedies and dramas. What should you keep your eye out for? What should you avoid at all costs? While it's still a little early for full reviews (some recasting and reshooting will be done on a good chunk of them), we thought we'd spend the next month previewing what's in store for the upcoming season. Each day we'll look at two of the 47 new series set to premiere this season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot.

There's no particular order here, just whatever's next on the stack of tapes. So without further ado, here's today's entries:

(TBA at midseason)

The network's description: "Tim (Josh Braaten, �Less Than Perfect"), Kyle (Max Greenfield, �Veronica Mars") and Doug (Eric Lively, �The L Word") are childhood friends who are at different stages in their lives when it comes to women. Doug can't move on from his ex-wife, Kyle is a womanizing bachelor, and Tim's relationships keep falling apart due to...well, he doesn't actually know. Tim's sister Tina (Marla Sokoloff, �Desperate Housewives," �The Practice"), a confident young law student, tries to make him understand that today's career-minded, self-sufficient women don't need a man for support, they're looking for a deeper and more meaningful connection. Though their situations are different, each of these guys has come to the same realization -- it takes a lot more than they expected to keep a woman happy and satisfied. After getting no help from Tim's dad Tug (George Wendt, �Cheers"), who's stuck in the Stone Age when it comes to the opposite sex, Tim, Kyle and Doug are just desperate enough to seek the help of Dr. Stangl (guest star Wendie Malick, �Frasier," �Just Shoot Me"), a renowned life coach. Now the question is whether these guys are capable of taking Dr. Stangl's advice and applying it to their every day situations. This fresh, male perspective on modern relationships is from Emmy Award-winning executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer �CSI," �Cold Case," �Without a Trace")."

What did they leave out: Because she was cast in second position to "Jake In Progress," Wendie Malick's character will be either recast or written out after the pilot.

The plot in a nutshell: After continuing to fail in their relationships with the opposite sex, three buddies - Tim (Josh Braaten), the "normal" one; Kyle (Max Greenfield), the womanizing one; and Doug (Eric Lively), the oddball one - are given the number of a successful life coach Dr. Stangl (Wendie Malick) by Tim's law student sister (Marla Sokoloff). Despite some initial hesitations (and some mocking by Tim's father, played by George Wendt), the trio decides to make an appointment where they (in typical TV "guy" fashion) proceed to tell her that they don't need her help. And, as expected, she doles out fortune cookie quality advice which causes Tim to confess his real feelings to his girlfriend (Kiele Sanchez, who apparently is in every pilot this year), Kyle to open up to his latest one-night stand and Tim to seek out his ex-wife and be, well, Tim. Oh and it takes place in Chicago, which means there's brief cuts to Wrigley Field every scene change to prove it takes place there.

What works: Yikes...

What doesn't: Not counting fellow WB newcomer "Misconceptions" (which we'll get to in a later preview), I can't recall the last time a sitcom was so painfully predictable and transparent. Everything about the show just reeks of bad early 1990s FOX ("Top of the Heap" anyone?) that it might as well have the leads dress as cave men and beat sticks against the wall to prove their manhood. (Women want to talk about their feelings? Grunt, grunt. Fire good.) Even worse is that it's pretty sad that such talented actors as Marla Sokoloff, George Wendt and Wendie Malick have been reduced to bit players on such bargain basement material. And then there's Max Greenfield, coming off great work on "Veronica Mars," who's forced to mug it up as a charmless Joey Tribbiani wannabe. Please God make it stop.

The challenges ahead: I can't even bring myself to write this.

  [july 2005]  


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